Visiting kenpom.com is a nice way to get a feel for how the numbers for your favorite college basketball team stack up nationally.
The adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rankings are particularly interesting. Purdue is the nation's only squad to rank in the top 10 in both categories.
Adding the schools' offensive ranking to its defensive ranking offers a little insight as to what teams play well enough at both ends to create problems for the opposition.
A look at the top 10 schools, blending Kenpom.com's offensive and defensive efficiency rankings:
|School (AP rank)
|1 - Purdue (3)
|2 - Michigan State (9)
|3 (tie)- North Carolina (15)
|3 (tie) - Villanova (1)
|5 (tie) - Gonzaga (13)
|5 (tie) - Virginia (2)
|7 (tie) - Kansas (10)
|7 (tie) - Ohio State (22)
|9 - Tennessee (21)
|10 - Texas Tech (8)
Three of last season's Final Four participants — Gonazaga (18), North Carolina (20) and Oregon (34) — finished with a top 10 blended total. South Carolina (94) was the exception, but the Gamecocks were exceptional at one end of the floor, ranking third nationally.
Duke, second-most efficient offensive team, and West Virginia, the nation's ninth-most efficient defensive squad, lurk as potential Final Four participants who are decidely better at one end of the floor than the other.
The nation's top 10 offensive teams, according to Kenpom.com.
|1 - Villanova||1||27||28|
|2 - Duke||2||78||80|
|3 - Saint Mary's||3||123||126|
|4 - TCU||4||131||135|
|5 - Arizona State||5||127||132|
|6 - Purdue||6||5||11|
|7 - Gonzaga||7||23||30|
|8 - Xavier||8||75||83|
|9 - Marquette||9||145||154|
|10 - Kansas||10||30||40|
The 2016 Final Four featured three schools with top-10 blended rankings (Villanova, North Carolina and Oklahoma), plus Syracuse, which ranked 50th in adjusted offensive efficiency and 18th defensively, thanks to its stingy 2-3 zone defense. A look at this season's top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, per kenpom.com:
|1 - Virigina
|2 - Cincinnati
|3 - Texas Tech
|4 - UCF
|5 - Purdue
|6 - Texas
|7 - Miami (Fla.)
|8 -Michigan State
|9 - West Virginia
|10 - Texas A&M
Kansas State landed the biggest surprise of the week so far in the Big 12, blasting Oklahoma, 87-69, in Manhattan by holding Trae Young to 20 points Tuesday night.
That result, coupled with Texas Tech losing to Texas, left Kansas alone atop of the Big 12 with a 5-1 record.
K-State coach Bruce Weber threw a little second-hand credit for the job the Wildcats did on Young to former Kansas guard Frank Mason.
Junior Barry Brown was the primary defender against Young and had plenty of help from teammates adhering to what seems to be the book on how to play Young: be physical.
“I think we wanted him to try to make him make big plays and stay in on him,” Weber said of defending Young. “And Barry’s a good defender. I’m not sure people realize how good he is. He was one of the leading steal guys in the Big 12 and in the country last year. He’s guarded all the team’s best players. He’s taken it upon himself.”
Mason, national player of the year last season, was among Brown’s assignments.
“You go against Frank Mason for two years, you’re going to get cooked, but you’re going to learn from it,” Weber said.
Young’s 20-point output was his lowest since scoring 15 points against Omaha in his college debut.
“Barry locked into him and he’s a little bigger, a little more physical,” Weber said.
Young made 2 of 10 3-pointers in the loss to Kansas State.
If Brown had done better in the final possession of the 73-72 loss to Kansas, when his low-percentage, 25-footer kissed off the front of the rim at the buzzer, five teams would share the Big 12 lead with 4-2 records.
Morgantown, W. Va. — Four schools established themselves very early in this Big 12 season as the top tier of the conference and sure enough all four are tied atop the standings with a 4-1 record. The other six schools all have losing records and everyone has at least one victory.
A deeper look at the standings reveals that some 4-1 records are better than others.
Kansas coach Bill Self, who has won at least a share of the Big 12 title in 13 consecutive seasons, keeps a different sort of standings in his head. It credits teams one point for road victories and subtracts one point for home losses. Home victories and road losses are neutral results in the Self-made standings.
Per Self’s standings, West Virginia is alone in first place and the other three 4-1 schools are tied for second.
I also include here each of the four schools’ record against other Tier I schools and labeled it the Tier I round-robin standings. In those, Texas Tech is alone in first, Kansas alone in fourth.
If Kansas, the only school with a three-game winning streak in conference play, can score a mini-upset tonight, that would move the Jayhawks to the role of favorites in the minds of many and, at least temporarily, would move KU into first in the Self scoring system as the only school at +2.
If the Mountaineers, four-point favorites, can extend KU’s Morgantown losing streak to five years, they would remain atop the Self standings and move into a tie in the Tier I round-robin competition.
Big, Big Monday game tonight.
Big 12 standings:
|1 - West Virginia
|2 (tie) - Texas Tech
|2 (tie) - Oklahoma
|2 (tie) - Kansas
|5 (tie) - Kansas St.
|5 (tie) - Texas
|7 (tie) - Oklahoma St.
|7 (tie) - TCU
|7 (tie) - Baylor
|10 - Iowa State
Tier I round-robin standings
|1 - Texas Tech
||2-1||Home: KU, OU
|2 (tie) - West Virginia
||1-1||Home: KU, TT
Road: KU, OU
|2 (tie) - Oklahoma
||1-1||Home: KU, WVU
Road: KU, TT
|4 - Kansas
||0-1||Home: WVU, OU
Road: WVU, TT, OU
Once cleared — could today be the day? — Kansas freshman Silvio De Sousa needs time before he can play long stretches in games for reasons that extend beyond learning the plays and understanding defensive principles.
“I do think his conditioning is lacking,” Kansas basketball coach Bill Self said. “So when your conditioning’s not as good, I do think sometimes you pace yourself.”
That’s where the coaching staff , including strength and conditioning director Andrea Hudy, comes in to push an athlete past his comfort zone.
“Andrea will take him after every practice, whether it’s to do extra in the weight room, where he’s primarily doing what his teammates do, so it is primarily running,” Self said.
Self also looks for opportunities to give De Sousa extra conditioning.
“Like yesterday, I made him do a drill in front of the team, which was a totally exhausting drill, and he was all excited when he finished it,” Self said. “I said, ‘OK, now on the line you’ve got this, this and this.’ He knows he needs to get in better shape. He’s the first one to tell us that, but it’s a big difference from high school to college. When you stop and think, this dude was playing high school ball just three weeks ago.”
If De Sousa is cleared in time to play Saturday against Kansas State, an 11 a.m. tip in Allen Fieldhouse, those in attendance can expect to see him make his on-court debut.
“He’s been with us long enough that I’d trust him to play in the game,” Self said. “I don’t know if I’d trust him to play in the last three minutes or four minutes, but play in a close game midway through the second half, no question.”
Self said he doesn’t expect it to take long for De Sousa to get into game shape.
“He’s been here now for two weeks and I think it’s expecting too much for him to be 80 or 90 percent of what he can be in the first couple of weeks,” Self said. “But I certainly think by February 1, I believe that to be the case that he can be 100 percent of what he can be.”
His early role will be to bring energy off the bench in short stretches to give Udoka Azubuike rest.
"He’s not going to play enough early on that we’re going to expect him to play 10 straight minutes," Self said. "It’s going to be short spurts so there’s no reason he can’t give us two to three to four minutes where his energy level’s very high, knowing that he’s not going to be in much longer than that anyway.”
Devonte' Graham knows how to feed the hot hand, but it's also on shooters to know when they have the hot hand and senior Svi Mykhailiuk seems to be doing a better job of it than in past years.
On the topic of hot hands, I'm here to tell you, I have one at the moment. In a column displayed on the front page of the Journal-World sports section Tuesday, I wrote that it's time for the real Malik Newman to stand up. Sure enough, Newman responded with by far his best game for Kansas, dropping 27 points and eight rebounds on visiting Iowa State.
How did I make such a timely call? Pure luck.
Now it's time for me to ride my hot hand and see if my luck can continue. Here goes:
It's time for the NCAA to clear Silvio De Sousa so that he can make his debut Saturday against Kansas State.
It would be a shame for De Sousa to have to wait much longer, given that he gave up his second semester at IMG Academy to join Kansas, which needs the muscle he can add to a thin front-court.
Once De Sousa makes his KU debut, coach Bill Self predicts it will be "three or four weeks" for him to get comfortable. He can still help a little before he's comfortable and probably a lot once he settles in.
For now, we can only rely on Youtube videos to get a feel for what type of player De Sousa is. Highlight tapes show only the good plays, obviously, but even so it's tough not to be impressed with this "Hoop Diamonds" collection of highlights from the 6-foot-9, 245-pound native of Angola.
He doesn't appear to have a particularly long wingspan, but is a quick leaper and perhaps best of all, understands that he can help his team most by staying close to the basket at both ends. It doesn't look as if he'll use his time at Kansas to try to prove to NBA scouts that he has a reliable jump shot. That's the impression Cheick Diallo gave, which is one reason he never logged many minutes for Kansas after making an impressive debut on Dec. 1, 2015, when he totaled 13 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots vs. Loyola (Maryland). In Diallo's remaining 26 games with KU he never surpassed any of those totals.
De Sousa (pronounced deh-SOE-suh, like once-inflated slugger Sammy Sosa) was named MVP of the FIBA Africa Championship in 2016. Silvio Fernando, also of Angola, was an all-tournament selection for that team. Fernando, a 6-10, 245-pound freshman for Maryland, is averaging 11 points and 6.5 rebounds for the Terrapins, coached by former Kansas point guard Mark Turgeon.
De Sousa is at a disadvantage compared to Fernando in that he joined his team mid-year, but still it's encouraging that a player who has not been hyped quite to the extent as De Sousa is making such a big immediate impact at a Big 10 school.
One reason the Big 12 has exceeded preseason expectations has to do with conference point guards, hyped plenty, performing even better than projected.
Numbers guru Ken Pomeroy of kenpom.com uses a statistical formula for his player-of-the-year rankings and has four point guards among his top 10. Three of them play in the Big 12 and one is not West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, who just outplayed Oklahoma freshman phenom Trae Young in West Virginia’s victory at home against the Sooners on Saturday.
A look at the kenpom.com top 10 POY standings:
|1 - Trae Young
(Oklahoma, Fr. PG)
|2 - Jock Landale
Saint Mary's, Sr. C
|3 - Bonzie Colson
Notre Dame, Sr. PF
|4 - Keenan Evans
Texas Tech, Sr. PG
|5 - Marvin Bagley
Duke, Fr. C
|6 - Jalen Brunson
Villanova, Jr. PG
|7 - Deandre Ayton
Arizona, Fr. C
|8 - Mikal Bridges
Villanova, Jr. SF
|9 - Devonte' Graham
Kansas, Sr. PG
|10 - Keita Bates-Diop
Ohio State, Jr. PF
By the time all 90 Big 12 games are played, obviously, the majority of games will be won by the home team.
But it’s going to be tougher than ever to turn back road warriors throughout the conference.
Even so, nobody could have predicted it would be as tough as it has been so far.
The road team won eight of the first nine Big 12 games. Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State, 109-89, Wednesday night to join Texas Tech as the only conference schools to win a home game.
Is it just a case of more of the good teams playing on the road the first week?
“I don’t know what a better team is, to be honest,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “This is the hardest, best-coached, best league I’ve ever seen, from top to bottom. I think round-robin makes it that much harder. We don’t have a bottom. Somebody is going to end up at bottom, but put them in another league they’re not going to end up at bottom.”
Those were the words of a coach who has a view from the top. West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech are the only schools to get off to 2-0 starts.
The view from the bottom doesn’t look any different.
“It’s the No. 1 league in the country for a reason without a doubt,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. “You you look back and there’s not an easy out in this league, home and on the road, 1 through 10, there is no bottom. Everybody’s good.”
Kansas coach Bill Self didn't hold back during the post-game radio interview on just how frustrated he is with his team in the wake of Tuesday night's 85-73 loss to Texas in Allen Fieldhouse.
"It's unbelievable, 41 points out of our softness or lack of ball-handling ability," Self said. "We turn it over 15 times ... and they get 26, which is unheard of, and then they turn it over 10 times and we get eight."
He was just warming up.
"The second-chance points (comparison) was a joke," Self said. "We do not have anybody who fights for the ball. We are playing all 2 guards and we have been able to dodge a few bullets. Udoka (Azubuike) got his butt whipped by their big kid (Norense Odiase) on the glass and our supposedly two best rebounders who play minutes should be Lagerald (Vick) and Svi (Mykhailiuk). Svi did not have a good game tonight and Lagerald (two points, two rebounds in 34 minutes), that was about as poor as I have seen him individually."
Self went on to explain how that could happen.
"It is because we didn't play tough," he said. "I have done such a crap job of getting these guys to understand how athletes who are hungry play. Those are some hungry athletes on the other side and we didn't match it at all from an intensity standpoint. We got what we deserved, certainly, and hopefully we can grow and get better from this."
Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Texas’ Mo Bamba understandably hog the freshman spotlight in the Big 12, but they aren’t the only newcomers having big impacts on their teams. Kansas will face two productive Texas Tech freshmen flying under the radar of the national spotlight tonight.
In the case of 6-foot-5, 195-pound Zhaire Smith from Garland, Texas, “flying” is the right way to put it.
“I played against him in high school a lot,” Kansas freshman Marcus Garrett said. “He’s a jumper. I think he’s got a 40-something inch vertical. That’s something right there. … He has a high motor and he plays hard.”
Smith averages 22.6 minutes, 10.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 blocks and a steal per game.
Jarrett Culver, a 6-5, 190-pound native of Lubbock, averages 10.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 21.2 minutes per game.
Both freshmen usually come off the bench, although they rank second and third on the team in scoring behind senior guard Keenan Evans (16.6 ppg).
“Culver is just a good player,” Self said. “He can just do a little bit of everything. He can score. He’s got good size. He can handle it. He’s like one of those jack-of-all-trades fours. He can post it and he can score beyond the arc.”
Smith and Culver have had the benefit of adjusting to the speed of the game against a soft non-conference schedule and came into conference play with a lot of confidence. Culver scored 13 points in a 77-53 rout of injury-weakened Baylor.
Kansas moved back into the top 10 in the Associated Press college basketball poll released today.
After scoring victories in Sacramento vs. Stanford and at Texas, the Jayhawks moved from No. 11 to No. 10, giving the Big 12 three top 10 schools and the state of Kansas two schools in the top 10.
The top 25 with the five Big 12 teams listed in bold type:
1 — Michigan State (14-1)
2 - Duke (13-1)
3 - Villanova (13-1)
4 - Arizona State (12-1)
5 - Xavier (14-1)
6 - West Virginia (12-1)
7 - Oklahoma (11-1)
8 - Virginia (12-1)
9 - Wichita State (11-2)
10 - Kansas (11-2)
11 - Texas A&M (11-2)
12 - North Carolina (12-2)
13 - Purdue (13-2)
14 - Arizona (11-3)
15 - Miami (Fla.) (12-1)
16 - TCU (12-1)
17 - Kentucky (11-2)
18 - Texas Tech (12-1)
19 (tie) - Gonzaga (12-3)
19 (tie) — Cincinnati (12-2)
21 - Seton Hall (13-2)
22 - Arkansas (11-2)
23 - Tennessee (9-3)
24 - Florida State (11-2)
25 - Clemson (12-1)
After a one-sided loss to Texas Tech, injury-weakened Baylor dropped out of the top 25 and is first among others receiving votes.
Even though this season's pre-conference schedule was not as difficult as usual, KU still will face no shortage of quality competition this season.
Kansas is 1-1 vs. teams currently ranked in the top 25 with a victory against Kentucky and a loss to Arizona State and has nine remaining scheduled games vs. current top 25 schools, including a tough test vs. No. 11 Texas A&M in the Big 12-SEC Challenge, Jan. 27 in Allen Fieldhouse.
KU had made it as high as No. 2 in the poll four weeks ago and then dropped out of the 10 in the rankings the next week, to No. 13, and dipped as low as No. 14 before returning to the top 10 today for the first time since a No. 2 ranking with a 7-0 record.